Your personal memories and pictures of classes & faces. More would be welcomed GANGES or RN elsewhere.
John (scouse) Phillips joined Ganges 30/10/1973 , 094 class, instructor CPO Wilkinson. We had a class photo taken and all paid 50p i think but none of the class ever received a copy of the photo as far as i am aware. If anybody can help in this matter i would be eternally grateful. Thanks, Scouse...(Webmaster: See my Guestbook (9 Nov 11 )- Link below)
Alan (Taff) Johns joined 16/3/1954, Class 392, Rodney 14 Mess. He sent me these three pictures in 2008 just days before he was diagnosed to have cancer. Alan, though he fought hard, quickly lost the battle and Crossed the Bar on the 1st of October 2008 (RIP). Alan said 'note the cup on the stove'. The picture is a classic example of the standard expected and achieved - even the windows are opened at a uniform angle! Alan was a Ganges Rugby Team member and the coloured CMG picture was taken by him in 2006.
These June 1973 pictures are of and from JEM Philip Askew, D133232E. He joined 3/10/1972 Resolution Mess later moving to Blake 4 Mess in the Long Covered Way.
From there he went as a JREM to HMS Collingwood Armada Block to do free running REM's course. Philip said (and proved it with a pic) that he "Sat on top of Blake 4 mess roof out side my window a couple of times to get out of Sunday divisions (didn't get caught)"
Top left: 'When you get to the top Doooon't look down' Obviously fearless, Philip must later have been an obvious candidate to send aloft at sea.
Des Young - Grenville Division, 19 Mess, July 1954 - sent this photo of 123 class (Petty Officer Smith ('Gravelguts') in which "on the back row the tall guy in the centre is a chap named Pete Green, Mike Moore is to his immediate right with his cap slightly tilted and to the immediate left of Pete is myself... in those days I was known as Jim after the singer Jimmy Young & later became known as 'Brigham'. Mike and I were roped in for the division Rugby team as 2nd row forwards for no other reason that we were 'big lads' as neither of us had played rugby before.
I also remember well the late night raids on the CMG and the ring leader was an Irish lad by the name of Dominic Fergus Montgomery who used to return from his foray with a tray of our favourite sweet, 'Manchester Tart'. Afterwards we would clean up all the evidence and the trays were 'ditched' in the River at the bottom of the Long Covered way". (1/07)
Bill Finch, C/JX138650, Rodney Divn (LCW) joined GANGES in March 1932. Bill, originally from Newmarket, has been round the world since joining and now lives within sight and sound of Shotley in Harwich the home town of his wife Eileen. They both wonder if there are any other "old codgers" about that remember them from their RN days.
In her initial contact with me Eileen wrote "I have been reading from your page H.M.S. GANGES to my husband, he is 87 now and his eyes are not very good, I'm still very much a novice on my computer but I have been writing some of his memories of Shotley Gate and his 25yrs in the navy, for his sons and grandchildren. He told about the harshness of the training but soon learned the two words that were most important YES SIR. His first ship when he was 16 plus was the battleship VALIANT, he also served on the DAINTY (destroyer), RAMILLIES (battleship) DUCHESS (destroyer) RESOLUTION (battleship) ENCOUNTER (destroyer) BELFAST (cruiser) SWIFTSURE (cruiser) He came back as an instructor to where he began at H.M.S. GANGES in 1949 finishing his time at Chatham as coxswain to Admiral Sir Geofrey Oliver, he came out in 1957 and is now living at Harwich He was C.P.O Finch (Gunnery)
Later Eileen said "Bill appreciated your remarks about guiding you "nozzers" and never forgets those poor frightened lads that came into his gun turret during WW2 after only a few weeks training, He said it frightened him even though he'd had years of training. Of all the ships that Bill served on he fondly remembers the `Resso` as he served longest on her, he was made a P.O. whilst on her, also he was on her when the French put two torpedoes through her ship side at Dakar and created a hole large enough for a double decked bus to fit in it, she was towed by H.M.S. BARHAM to Sierra Leone for a temporary repair, it took four days to get there and whilst heavily listing, the whole of the ships company, officers and men, formed a chain gang bailing her out in shifts to keep her afloat. After, she sailed to Portsmouth to have the repairs done properly, however, in spite of her camouflage the enemy got wind of her being there and bombed the port, so she had to make a hasty retreat and sailed across the Atlantic to Philadelphia with a cement side and was at last repaired there"
In talking of the 1954 GANGES that I and many others knew Bill light-heartedly enlightened me with the following: "Bill says when you were at Ganges the swimming pool was heated, in his time the pool was open air on the water front and in March it was bloody cold. Sometimes when we had to don white duck suits, they would be be hanging there in a frozen state so we had to swish them about in the water before we could put them on but as the instructors told us" it wont do you any harm boy" and in Bill's case they were obviously right.
(Webmaster's comment: I guess we could all think of a more descriptive, if less civilised, expletive that, even if used, would not begin to convey just how cold Shotley and the Stour might be in March! Bill had his character built at GANGES almost three-quarters of a century ago, traversed the harsh realities of WW2 and still, in his eighties, exemplifies the determination and diligence instilled there all those years ago. Congratulations Bill, long may you continue to be an example to us all.)
In closing Eileen posed this question "I wonder if anyone else remembers climbing the mast as Bill did often to have a crafty smoke the one sure place he wouldn't be caught.( 7days 10A if caught smoking )" email@example.com
John Cooper remembers his journey from Luton to GANGES, via Liverpool Street Station, on the 1st of January 1949 and the 'award' there of Official No. P/JX 864664. John thinks he was in Jellicoe Divn down the LCW. He recalls his "D.O.Lt.Commander Donald Cameron V.C. who spent many an hour telling us how he stuck limpits on TIRPITZ…. and his subsequent capture by the opposition as a POW. He was also caught swearing and was made to "yell out in front of the ships co, 'ahoy, ahoy, may this mouthwash make me a clean-mouthed boy until the gallon had been gargled and spat out - one learns not to swear in front of people for many a day"
His Instructor was PO Barber who by the time they met again in boats had become a Commissioned Gunner. Boys he remembers include Trim Johnson & Sparrow. Ships included CADIZ, passage on Empress of Australia to the Med and CHEVRON. John has lived in Australia now for 38 years. This picture of John was taken down 'The Gut' in 1950/51
Bert Wilkinson, J938100 (SB No. 5656), DOE 4/5/54, GANGES Hawke 49 (87 Class). Has been back a few times, the first in 1964 when it was still 'active' In 1994 and against the advice of Bob Keable (DOE 1946) his former Seamanship Instructor he says he "Stood outside the main gate and did something I never did as a Boy there, I cried". He continued "Have been back since August 1996 to the Museum but it still hurts". He also clearly recalls his 'sea training' day in OBDURATE that had more than enough excitement for him. He says "Once under way she started rolling I got very sea sick and was hanging out through the stern rails when I was suddenly grabbed by a P.O. and dragged up the deck. I had been seen from the bridge and the life-buoy sentry had been telephoned to get me as I was going down the quarter deck. Unfortunately (for him) he was absent and the P.O. of the watch was sent to get me". Bert's suffering and day extended into the night as "whilst we were on board Obdurate stood by and eventually towed a "Gay " class gunboat to Sheerness and we did not get back to Ganges until next morning. firstname.lastname@example.org
Colin Keevil, C/J926450 DOE 9/53 (Centre row left in the 'White Sports Gear' picture) in GANGES Annexe and with his Hawke 47 Mess mates later on the Main Parade Ground. Colin, already in OBDURATE tooik me under his wing when I joined her in April 55. He later served in UNDINE, ROEBUCK, Devonport Field Gun Crew & ST ANGELO.
8/6/06 - Sadly Colin crossed the bar 26/5/06 and was cremated at Ipswich Crematorium on 12 June (See Guestbook)
Pete Swann, P055633, DOE ?/60. GANGES Keppel 223 Class. Pete "smirking (in LH pic) at his chums gumboil" and in the other his return in 1973 as an RPO Instructor. Also in Lincoln in 64 and ICKFORD as Leading Signalman in Singapore. On demob was a Master at Arms. (Guestbook) email@example.com
Ken Heap. D/J 926149, pics. DOE 5/5/1953 - GANGES Hawke Divn. Also in OPOSSUM in HK 1954 (L to R Ken, Ernie Summerford & Rob Urquhart). firstname.lastname@example.org
Barrie (Buck) Taylor, P/J 938125 is here. DOE 4/1954 GANGES Benbow 203. Mafiosi with kedge-anchored bike is PO Tel MacGillvray and in the other picture Buck is leading the guard "hoping to get the turn right.." he says. Class 393 was the other one in the Mess. email@example.com
Buck says Eddie Calvert's 'Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White' was the GANGES tannoy tune etched on his mind. For me it was Glenn Miller's 'Little Brown Jug' & 'Moonlight Serenade'. Did you have one????
G R Railson, P/J 938196, (SBNo 5754) DOE ?/1954 GANGES - 81st Recruitment - Tyrwhitt 1/Rodney11/Collingwood42 messes recalls Instructor Boy Heath, "Socks & Soap on the ledge" and being the victim of a soft soap mouthwash plus songster "Ho He Hi this will make me a clean mouthed boy". He didn't say if it worked or not! GRRailson@aol.com
Ivor Rich DOE 1/1960 Hawke Div, 48 Mess. In the picture are his instructors PO(BT) Richardson and PO(GI) (Ali) Barber that he describes as "..tough characters who had the welfare of the boys at heart and provided us with fair disciplined training. These were the fellows who ensured we got some benefit from our time at Ganges". Ivor returned from Australia to visit GANGES in 2000 & found it "cold as hell, blowing a gale and an incredible feeling of energy ...as though there were still 1100 boys around the place". His other ships included DUNKIRK, ALERT & BARROSA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rip Kirby was another resident in the tin hut messes of Hawke Division at GANGES in 1953
This page is first published on the 50th anniversary of my joining HMS GANGES on 9 February 1954 so I hope you will excuse my indulgence! Les Burrill
If you have a photo or two &/or a RN recollection you would like to add to this page or any other please get in touch.
Page 1st pub 9/2/04 in 'HMS' folder. Moved here & Rev 31/12/06 (Ctr 4700)